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EQ In Exclusive Conversation With Mr. Shri Dinesh P., CGM, NABARD

EQ In Exclusive Conversation With Mr. Shri Dinesh P., CGM, NABARD


1. What are the most significant climate change threats impacting India’s agriculture and rural livelihoods, and how are these impacting different regions and communities?

India with diverse geographical regions, long coastline, biodiversity, and high dependence on natural resources is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change risks worldwide. Further, more than half of India’s population lives in rural areas and depends on agriculture & allied activities, which are highly sensitive to climate change, threatening the livelihoods of people dependent on them.

There is emerging evidence that the productivity of crops, livestock and fish is likely to be affected with implications to food security, livelihoods and sustainability in agriculture. The occurrence of frequent extreme weather events across different parts of the country has resulted in significant losses in crop yield and income for farmers at a micro level, besides negatively impacting the nation’s economy at a macroeconomic level.

The impacts of these climate change threats vary across regions and communities based on factors such as geographical location, socioeconomic status, access to resources, and adaptive capacity. Vulnerable groups, including smallholder farmers, landless labourers, and marginalized communities, often bear the brunt of these impacts, facing challenges in adapting to changing climatic conditions and maintaining their livelihoods.

As per IPCC AR6, climate change has caused widespread adverse impacts and related losses and damages to nature and people that are unequally distributed across systems, regions and sectors and also economic damages from climate change are widespread in climate-exposed sectors, such as agriculture, forestry, fishery, energy, and tourism.

2. Beyond traditional methods, what innovative strategies is NABARD promoting to enhance the climate resilience of agricultural practices and rural infrastructure in India?

NABARD supports the adoption of climate-resilient crop varieties and diversified cropping systems that are better adapted to changing climatic conditions. This includes promoting drought-tolerant crops, salt-tolerant varieties, and crop diversification to minimize risks associated with climate variability.

NABARD has recently launched a new initiative called JIVA, which pioneers agroecology as a strategic and transformational approach to ensure sustainability of watershed and wadi projects at scale. With principles of natural farming at its core, JIVA aims to diversify crop systems, integrate livestock and trees, rejuvenate biological processes, manage pests using natural methods, extend crop cover for a longer period, and efficiently manage soil moisture and rainfall, thereby ensure adaptation and mitigation as co-benefits.

NABARD is collaborating with UNDP to co-create data driven innovations in agriculture and food systems to support small holder farmers. NABARD is currently hosting a digital public good platform, Data in Climate Resilient Agriculture (DiCRA), to provide access to quality data on Climate Resilient Agriculture (CRA), and assist in data-driven decision making across the agriculture ecosystem in India and optimize investments.

3. How is NABARD supporting rural financial institutions and farmers in accessing financing for climate-resilient technologies and adaptation measures?

NABARD has been at the forefront, leveraging concessional finance and grants to encourage farmers to embrace sustainable techniques. These include promoting climate resilient agriculture practices, water-efficient irrigation systems, renewable energy adoption, and precision farming methods, aligning with the larger goal of reducing carbon footprints while enhancing productivity.

NABARD plays a pivotal role as the National Implementing Entity and Direct Access Entity for major climate funds such as the Green Climate Fund, Adaptation Fund, and National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change. This position allows NABARD to access and deploy climate finance effectively, driving impactful initiatives that address the pressing challenges of climate change in the ANR sector.

NABARD has created its own dedicated Climate Change Fund (CCF) to support awareness-building on Climate Change issues among various stakeholders and to promote and demonstrate innovative Climate Change adaptation/mitigation interventions and climate-resilient livelihoods.

4. How does NABARD ensure that its climate action initiatives in the ANR sector promote not only resilience but also sustainable resource management and equitable benefits for marginalized communities?

The whole spectrum of NABARD’s functions and initiatives, unique across the world, focuses on the attainment of sustainable development and mitigating and adapting to climate change. NABARD’s initiatives in the Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Rural Development (ANR) sector have integral components of climate action for vulnerable sectors and communities. Prominent among these are: Watershed Development, Tribal Development, Infrastructure development under RIDF, NIDA, etc. besides its climate change projects.

NABARD recognizes that climate resilience cannot be isolated from sustainable resource management. Its initiatives consider ecosystem health, soil conservation, and biodiversity. By promoting sustainable practices, NABARD ensures long-term benefits for both people and the environment.

NABARD conducts regular monitoring and evaluation of its climate action initiatives to assess their impact on resilience, sustainable resource management, and equitable benefits for marginalized communities. This includes tracking key performance indicators related to livelihood improvement, natural resource conservation, and social equity.

5. What mechanisms are in place to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of NABARD’s climate action initiatives in the ANR sector? How are lessons learned being used to refine and improve future interventions?

The project assessment environment has seen big changes all over the world and there is a renewed focus on ensuring that each project is evaluated and monitored on a real time basis and that there is a definite body of data to substantiate the impact. Recently NABARD has developed an “Outcome-Based Monitoring and Evaluation Framework” for capturing, evaluating and presenting the outcome datasets of all our developmental initiatives.

Traditionally, within NABARD, monitoring and evaluation efforts have focused on processes, inputs, activities, and outputs. Through this framework, we are extending the scope by incorporating outcome-based assessments. By linking the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) framework with the Outcome Framework indicators, we will be able to assess not only the activities and outputs but also a holistic impact and outcome of its development initiatives.

NABARD defines clear metrics to measure climate resilience. These metrics assess outcomes related to livelihoods, natural resource management, and adaptation. Regular tracking ensures alignment with climate goals.

NABARD’s commitment to monitoring, evaluation, and learning ensures that climate action initiatives in the ANR sector are effective, sustainable, and responsive to community needs. Lessons from past experiences guide future interventions, fostering resilience and equitable benefits.

6. How is NABARD fostering collaboration with various stakeholders, including government agencies, private sector entities, civil society organizations, and local communities, to ensure a comprehensive and inclusive approach to climate action in the ANR sector?

NABARD facilitates multi-stakeholder partnerships involving government agencies, private sector entities, civil society organizations (CSOs), research institutions, and local communities to address climate change challenges in the ANR sector. These partnerships leverage diverse expertise, resources, and networks to develop holistic solutions and promote collective action.

NABARD promotes participatory planning and decision-making processes that involve stakeholders in setting priorities, identifying solutions, and allocating resources for climate action, especially in our developmental initiatives like watershed and tribal development projects.

NABARD promotes community engagement and empowerment by involving local communities, farmers, and indigenous groups in the design, implementation, and monitoring of climate action projects. This participatory approach ensures that interventions are contextually appropriate, socially inclusive, and responsive to local needs and priorities.

7. How is NABARD contributing to knowledge sharing and capacity building on climate-resilient practices and policies within India and potentially beyond its borders?

By acknowledging the importance of knowledge and skill-building, NABARD has initiated extensive capacity-building programs, creating awareness amongst farmers in climate-resilient practices. These workshops, demonstrations, and collaborations with experts aim to empower farmers with the necessary tools and knowledge to combat climate challenges effectively, highlighting the importance of green literacy programmes.

NABARD has also established a Centre for Climate Change at BIRD, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, which is involved in knowledge sharing, training, capacity building of stakeholders, policy advocacy, etc.

NABARD partners with multilateral agencies such as UNDP, the World Bank, ADB, GCF, FAO, GIZ, etc. to leverage resources and expertise for scaling up climate-resilient initiatives. These partnerships facilitate knowledge exchange, technical assistance, and financial support for implementing climate projects and programs both within India and in other countries.

Anand Gupta Editor - EQ Int'l Media Network